ATLANTA -- With the Delta Civil Rights Weekend under way, Braves first-base coach Terry Pendleton hopes this event helps the youth of Atlanta to have the same kind of experience he had in January when he went to the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Ala.
After visiting Birmingham's 16th Street Church, where four young African-American females were killed by a race-related bombing in 1963, Pendleton and Braves outfielder Jason Heyward spent the next hour being enriched by the vast amount of history contained within the Civil Rights Museum.
Now with Major League Baseball bringing the Civil Rights Weekend to Atlanta, Pendleton hopes others gain similar enlightenment while being introduced to such things as the King Center or Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King preached.
"I think it's good to have it here in Atlanta, where you had a Hank Aaron, who made history with a home run and dealt with the things he had to deal with along the way to becoming the home run king," Pendleton said. "I think it will be good for all of our young ones, no matter what our race or color is."
While spending his earliest years growing up in South Central Los Angeles, Pendleton gained knowledge of black history in school. He heard stories about Dr. King's dream and about some of the hardships Jackie Robinson had endured after breaking baseball's color barrier in 1947.
As today's young African-Americans experience freedoms their relatives didn't have just 50 years ago, Pendleton hopes they take time to understand how Robinson, King and many other civil rights leaders helped provide them the freedoms they have today.
"I would hope the kids come out and get an opportunity to see all of our history," Pendleton said. "Black, white, green -- it doesn't matter what color you are. You just need to see history -- period."
This weekend's events are centered around the Civil Rights Game, which will be played between the Braves and Phillies at Turner Field on Sunday afternoon at 1:35 ET. But the weekend will offer much more to both baseball fans and those who have not been introduced to what baseball can provide.
At the conclusion of Saturday afternoon's 1:10 p.m. game vs. the Phillies, award-winning rapper Ludacris will provide a concert at Turner Field.
This year's event will include a roundtable discussion about baseball and civil rights, a clinic that will introduce children to some Major League players and the presentation of the MLB Beacon Awards, which celebrate the achievements of individuals whose lives are emblematic of the spirit of the civil rights movement.
Pendleton will attend the MLB Beacon Awards Banquet presented by Belk on Saturday night at the Omni Hotel. This year's winners include actor Morgan Freeman (Beacon of Hope), musician Carlos Santana (Beacon of Change) and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks (Beacon of Life).
During this year's presentation, Rev. Al Sharpton will introduce five "Freedom Riders" -- civil rights activists who took interstate bus rides into the segregated southern United States to test the United States Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia.
Pendleton learned about the freedom riders many years ago. But before visiting Birmingham a couple months ago, he didn't know their link Anniston or Gadsden, a couple of Alabama towns that he has visited numerous times while living in Atlanta for the past 20 years.
Now, Pendleton is hoping others will take time to learn something this weekend and gain an understanding of why Atlanta is an ideal place for MLB to stage the Civil Rights Weekend.
"Birmingham doesn't have a Major League team," Pendleton said. "So there's definitely no better place."